Barn stars are pretty decorations often found above barn doors. They can be painted or made of metal. Sometimes, people use hex signs or quilt squares instead. These decorations have a surprising reason behind them, different from what you might think.
German-American farmers really value Barn stars. They put them on top of barns to keep away bad things or help their crops grow better. What’s neat is that each one has a unique meaning and can come in different colors.
For example, a green barn star means good crops and strong growth. But if it’s blue or black, it means it’s protecting the farmer, their home, and their crops. Brown is about friendship. Barn Stars have a cool history.
Barn stars started showing up on barns around the 1830s, but now they’ve become a bit stylish. The Pennsylvania Dutch, or Amish, group used them. Each star is based on art from Germany. The Amish are famous for living simple lives, without much of today’s popular culture and technology.
Barn stars are just one of the many old traditions and customs in certain areas. What’s interesting is that if your family follows Pennsylvania Dutch traditions, things that seem related actually have different meanings.
Patrick Donmoyer said there are two important traditions to know about: “There are the barn stars, and then there are the hex signs.”
Barn Stars Might Keep You Safe
Donmoyer is in charge of the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University. Hex signs, which are believed to bring luck to newlyweds, can be found in various places, like marriage licenses. They are also seen on grave markers to help the deceased find peace in the afterlife.
People have been doing superstitious things for a very long time, and they’ve changed as the world changed. Surprisingly, barn stars didn’t have the same meaning or “magic” that people think they do today.
In reality, as Donmoyer explained, “These were related to farming life. They weren’t really connected to supernatural things.” Hex signs were actually inspired by barn stars and appeared on barns almost a century later.
Hex Signs Are Different from What You Think
An artist named Wallace Nutting visited Pennsylvania Dutch Country in 1924 and didn’t quite understand the original quilt squares or barn stars. He ended up creating the hex signs based on a misunderstanding.
“He was talking about something that exists, but what he was talking about got mixed up,” Donmoyer clarified. “It wasn’t the barn stars he was talking about, but rather this idea of the hexenfoos. He got the two parts of the tradition mixed up.”
By the 1950s, these patterns were being brought back and had become a favorite place for tourists to visit. The presence of barn stars and quilt squares on barns in Pennsylvania Dutch country serves as a reminder of the creativity, hard work, and traditions of a culture that has often puzzled mainstream society.
These symbols represent the culture and traditions that have been handed down from one generation to the next. So, although people commonly think barn stars are for keeping away bad things, for the Pennsylvania Dutch, they are more of a decorative tribute to their ancestors and where they come from.
Various Cultures Share Similar Practices
Superstitions have been around for a very long time, as we mentioned earlier. They are meant to help keep away bad things, prevent bad luck, and often bring good luck and happiness. It’s not shocking that many groups and countries have their own old symbols, like barn stars, that have been changed to keep away evil and protect homes and families.
The “Om” symbol is often used to protect during meditation and spiritual activities. While many have heard the word or sound, it also has a visual meaning. It’s believed to cleanse the body and mind, creating a peaceful and balanced state between calmness and life’s difficulties.
Eye of Horus Symbols
Another example is the Eye of Horus from Egypt. This powerful symbol, often seen in ancient Egyptian art and jewelry, is believed to provide protection and healing. There’s also the Hamsa Hand, which is believed to protect against evil and bring good health, luck, and wealth. You can find it in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
It’s interesting to know that turtles are highly respected symbols. Native American and African tribes see turtles as a sign of living a long life, having wisdom, being fertile, and staying connected to the Earth.
Helm of Awe Symbols
Lastly, the Norse symbol called the Helm of Awe is believed to protect warriors in battle and make their enemies afraid.
Similar but Not the Same
Even though people from different countries couldn’t easily communicate, technology has made it easier to see that many nations and cultures have similar symbols, even if they call them by different names and have different meanings for them.
However, every symbol is seen as bringing protection, prosperity, and good health. They remind us of our ancestors’ hopes for the future well-being of our families and community.
The fascinating history of barn stars is full of beautiful, uncomplicated patterns. Watch this video for more inspiration and guidance: